As you can see, the lady of the house is already seated on her horse, ready to go to work and says good-bye to her husband in a very touching and loving way. He, on the other hand, is already wearing a good armour so he might survive a day of childcare without being severely injured by their charming kids who, after all, have to train just in case another war happens. (And it did, as we know, about once a year during that time.)
That's a joke, of course. I took that picture from a book about fairies, though I'm not completely sure who's portrait on it. Probably one of the great mythical couples ... though I'm not really sure which one.
Nevertheless, wouldn't it be nice if my theory about the life in the medieval ages were right? If women had been going to work then and men had staid home?
Ridiculous, some people would say, but is it really?
In Germany men more or less expect a woman to stay at home because she has children. Then mother stays at home while father drives to work (unlike my personal theory in which father stays at home and mother rides to work in the morning). That means, especially for women who have studied, to either throw away the years they spent learning their trade or to dismiss the thought of ever having children at all.
Who's to blame for it? Society, that would be the easiest answer. But easy answers aren't always right ... or at least not completely right.
Society has to do with it and that can't be ignored at all. But apart from the conservative people in Germany who still haven't put their heads around the concept of a woman giving away her children during the day while going to work without being a bad mother automatically, there's also the women themselves who, during the emancipation, have made a mistake.
Sometime during the whole process of emancipation that started in the late sixties, the women tried to redefine themselves be being women (which on the whole is not a bad idea) and sort of glorified everything female from our monthly 'problem' to being a mother. I personally don't see anything feminine in glorifying that certain week every month and I don't see the point in glorifying being a mother either - not the way they did it.
Before that women became pregnant, carried out their children and raised them, that was all. They didn't spent most of their pregnancy reading up on the principles of 'natural birth' or how long to breastfeed their babies. They were rather glad, I should think, to live in a world which held medicaments against pain during the birth and they stopped breastfeeding after a couple of month because they wanted to get out more (and before the beginning of emancipation no woman would have ever dreamt of feeding her child right in the middle of a restaurant or other public place ... as that would have meant baring her breast, naturally, and that was considered amoral).
In Germany the women started celebrating their womanhood during the eighties (opposite to condemning it during the seventies when women were not considered Feminists because they shaved their legs or armpits) - which isn't really bad - and that included proudly feeding their babies in public places. It also included being the absolute super-mom, including taking the babies to countless different courses and events and spending hours reading up on every subject. (Former generations had asked their mothers, aunts or other female relatives or friends whenever a problem with raising the baby occurred, but that was too easy for a super-mom, I think.) Well, you simply can't be a super-mom and do a full-time job at the same time. The day only holds 24 hours, after all. And that 'super-mom' ideal somehow has become anchored in the minds of the women today, together with all the things the conservatives have to say about the 'right' behaviour for a woman.
And all this is the reason why Germany has a declining birthing rate... But don't tell the politicians, they don't want to believe it anyway. It's true, though, most women would be more happy to have children, if they knew their kids were cared for well during the day (starting with some sort of pre-kindergarten for infants from six months or a year onwards, including enough places in kindergartens that are open long enough for parents to pick their kids up after a day of work, and finally ending with schools that last until well into the afternoon, both keeping the children somewhere safe and making sure there's a teacher helping them with the homework [instead of the mother, as it is now]). The whole discussion about shortening the years children go to school (especially if they attend the highest form of secondary school we have in Germany) would be easier to solve if the children simply went to school longer every day, just as in other countries in Europe.
And then: Maybe if we really changed the whole issue of caring for the children for a couple of years (as in the picture above), everything would work out just fine - because a man surely wouldn't want to be forced to stay at home instead of having a career, just because he has kids.
So, let's do that, girls, saddle your horses and ride to work, let your husband deal with the kids!